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Phillips, an Islamophobe or freedom campaigner?

24th Mar 2020
Phillips, an Islamophobe or freedom campaigner?

Trevor Phillips (Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, London)
(Credit: Stephan Röhl/Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung/CC-BY-SA )

“People fought and died for [the] freedom of expression… They didn’t fight and die for it, so it could be used as a sort of silly parlour game,” so said Trevor Phillips in 2007 when he was Chair of the all-embracing Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Interviewed on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show at the time, Phillips was protesting against controversial historian David Irving and former BNP Leader Nick Griffin being allowed to speak at the prestigious Oxford Union debating society.

Phillips, a Labour Party member since 1996, briefly ran as Tony Blair’s preferred choice for London mayor before the election of Ken Livingstone.

After losing Phillips branded his rival ‘racist,’ Livingstone fired back accusing Phillips of using his skin colour to replace the Commission for Racial Equality with the EHRC. “If Trevor Phillips wasn’t black, he couldn’t have done what he’s done,” he told LBC in December 2006.

Phillips, an outspoken critic of multiculturalism, warned back in 2005 that Britain was sleepwalking into segregation or what he called the “ghettoisation” of parts of Britain, yet his focus and animosity increasingly zeroed in on Muslims.

He was surprisingly allowed in 2016 to present a sensationalist Channel Four documentary – ‘What British Muslims Really Think’ –suffice to say the racist conclusion was that Muslims were a “nation within the nation, with its own geography, its own values, and its own very separate future.”

He argued that polls suggested that Muslims’ views on law and order, women, homosexuality, terrorism, and integration were not in line with the rest of the nation.

The same year saw the “anti-racist advocate” double up on his dire assertions in the publication ‘Race and Faith: The Deafening Silence’ in which he painted a grim picture of future community tensions and conflicts in Britain unless a “more muscular” approach to integration is adopted in place of the existing “laissez-faire” attitude.

Almost of Enoch Powell’s ‘river of blood’ proportions, he similarly claimed, “Rome may not yet be in flames, but I think I can smell the smouldering.”

In August 2017, the former Equalities Chief weighed in on The Times highly Islamophobic story (‘Christian child forced into Muslim foster care’). He has yet to apologise for his role in fuelling the fake story, which has since been debunked by The Independent Press Standards Organisation.

Writing for The Sun, he notoriously accused Tower Hamlets’ Council of choosing to “value their pro-Muslim reputation above the welfare of the child” and likened the decision to “child abuse.”

The surprise about Phillips suspension from the Labour Party is why it has taken so long. The investigation included his past comments three years ago when he derogatively associated the perpetrators of child sexual abuse in northern towns with Islam.

Just as his argument that he cannot be racist, because he is black, so too is his claim that he cannot be Islamophobic because he had Muslim relatives (similarly used by no one other than Boris Johnson.)

And there appears to be that he does not have the slightest remorse going by his latest defence on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “They say that I’m accusing Muslims of being different. Well, actually that’s true. The point is Muslims are different.”

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